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Written by Kirsten Macdonald

When we ponder the great minds in bite-sized nibbles, you cannot go too far down the boulevard of bellwethers before you arrive at the feet of Aristotle. 

For Aristotle (born 384 BCE, Stagira, Chalcidice, Greece—died 322, Chalcis, Euboea) biologist and greek philosopher, the soul may be defined by its relationship to an organic structure. Aristotle pondered on the notion that plants and beasts have souls too, as does anything that holds life. Soul and body, according to the Greek scientist and metaphysics master, are no more distinct from each other than the impress of a seal is distinct from the wax on which it is impressed. 

But what of its care while here on earth? 

Aristotle argues that human beings must have a function, because particular types of humans (e.g., sculptors) do, as do the parts and organs of individual human beings. … It must, therefore, involve the peculiarly human faculty of reason. Happiness stems from this function which collaborates with the soul. 

Yet, in his works called Eudemus, he reflects another aspect echoing his teacher and fellow philosopher Plato’s view of the soul as imprisoned in the body. To this day, humans everywhere love to wrangle out the angles of what the mighty thinker meant. 

Aristotelian concepts are broad, deep and far-reaching, particularly in metaphysics and have greatly influenced Christian Scholasticism and Islamic philosophy. He wrote many pieces (too many to mention) however in relation to one’se ether On Longevity and Shortness of Life; is a ripper. 

On the Heavens 

First, is there an infinite body, as the majority of the ancient philosophers thought, or is this an impossibility? The decision of this question, either way, is not unimportant, but rather all-important, to our search for the truth.” – He goes on to try and decipher the movement of heaven, and the physics of it all. You may go crosseyed at this point, reader beware of clicking that link lol! 

On Dreams 

“We must suppose that, like the little eddies which are being ever formed in rivers, so the sensory movements are each a continuous process, often remaining like what they were when first started, but often, too, broken into other forms by collisions with obstacles.” 

This is my favourite. 

Now, whilst Plato was a math’s man, Aristotle was a plant guy.

You might be asking at this point; Where were the women? Well, here’s an intriguing nibble, Aristotle thought women would bring disorder, evil, and were “utterly useless and caused more confusion than the enemy.” Sheesh. 

Now the carver of ideals was wise, I mean check out these babies; 

“Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.”

“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.

He had one modern-day faux pas. 

Aristotle thought keeping women separate from the rest of the society was a very good idea. It has been depicted through our history books that Athenian women were not educated. Yet some artworks depict female students: a fifth-century B.C. kylix depicts one carrying a tablet and stylus. Another shows a girl reading from a papyrus. Hmmm. 

Aristotle’s first wife was Pythias, was also called Pythias the Elder and was the adopted daughter of a king. There was talk that Pythias was in fact educated and helped old mate write an encyclopedia, and collected specimens from the isle the Lesbos … the mind boggles. 

Perhaps Aristotle’s search for the truth and the soul graced him more than he bargained for; the mind of a good woman. 

Written by Kirsten Macdonald

Narnia, A Faraway Tree with a smidge of a Doc called Suess, and some Kahlil Gibran is the word charm that grew seeds in Kirsten Macdonald's imagination. She has an innate curiosity about the stories of "us" and a deep faith that is strongly supported by a dark sense of humour. Ask this wordsmith about anthropology, ancient religions, the curious nature of humanity and the incredible cuteness of sloths and you will have a conversation for hours. Writer, editor and researcher, Kirsten has developed Ponderings into a space that is now shared by a team and a shared vision that is infectiously positive and forged in good stuff.

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